Is retirement a honeymoon?

Planning retirement is like getting ready to get married: lots of details, dreams, and hopes. Often the plans are about the wedding and the honeymoon rather than the lifetime partnership to follow. With retirement, the thoughts are of the celebration and the honeymoon period rather than the New Normal that will be the next stage of life.

When I ask people what their plans are for retirement, I usually hear about people getting ready for the first few months of retirement or a couple of years at best. I hear about travel most of all, and then about renovations or moving and downsizing. I hear about more time to do whatever comes along. I hear the frivolous comments like turn off the alarm and sleep in every day, or the details of work they will not miss including meetings, evaluations, personality conflicts, or deadlines. I hear a cry of freedom, release, and relief. I do not hear about much beyond the honeymoon period, however.

To party or not to party

Like any transition, a celebration to mark it is a fine idea. Think back to other big life changes from graduation, to marriage, to the birth of a child, or a special birthday to see which ones were most memorable and why. At work, the change to retirement gets recognized, the career remembered and celebrated, and the person is sent off with best wishes for a new life. At least that’s one of the best scenarios for a retirement party.

I suggest retiring that they have some part in the planning of their celebration and it may not just be a party at work. A trip, a private gathering, or a dream-come-true adventure can usher in a new stage of life in a fun and memorable way. This is a shift you can choose to do in a public or private fashion. It’s your retirement and your choice of how to celebrate!

Off to see the world

Honeymoons happen too! The first feelings of freedom, stress-free time, and the sense that life is open to lots of possibilities can be very exciting! Travel is what 86 percent of pre-retirees say they are looking forward to in the Go-Go stage of retirement. Many want to stretch their wings and make some dreams come true out in the wide world.

Here is where the Valentine comes in. If you have a spouse, this retirement planning is a couple of experience that requires communication and negotiation. Just like a wedding, timing and planning for retirement need a few chats as is the destination of that honeymoon trip and the style of travel as you hit the road. Like the wedding and honeymoon, the details need to be hashed out beforehand. Only about 35 percent of couples discuss their retirement plans ahead of time. This may not be the way to head into a marriage or a retirement. Share the dreams and hopes for retirement as well as those travel ideas.

Blowing the budget

Some engagement rings, wedding dresses, receptions, and honeymoons can break the bank and put a newly married couple in a mess of debt. Not a great start. The same can happen with the honeymoon stage of retirement. When one friend of mine took up photography, he bought expensive equipment and took courses in photogenic places, but his still working wife added up the Visa bills and put a damper on his retirement honeymoon. Keep your eye on the budget ball, plan ahead, and communicate with your valentine. Then have as much fun as you can imagine!


  1. Richard Rinyai

    My wedding only cost about $4000 and we only had about 20 guests. Granted this was over a decade ago, but we wanted something small and were just starting out as well. I’m glad that we made this decision, as we were able to get a condo, then a year later, a house, because we saved up and not splurged it on our wedding.

  2. bax

    Great thought for all of us, not just the newly retired. It takes planning and focus to make anything happen, and the devil is always in the details.

  3. Bill Birnbaum

    While planning for retirement is beneficial, many (perhaps most) retirees find that they follow their plan only loosely. In fact, many retirees find themselves trying a bit of this and a bit of that in search for “their true retired self.” Bill

    • donna mccaw

      I agree that trying this and that is part of the discovery of the new you. I thought I would tutor and teach overseas but it did not happen but lots of other projects and opportunities came up. Self awareness and the ability to pick and choose come in handy.

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